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Amazon warehouse workers hospitalized in bear repellent incident

One is reportedly in critical condition.

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Fifty-four employees at Amazon's Robbinsville, New Jersey, warehouse were treated after a can of bear repellent exploded at the facility on Wednesday, according to NJ.com

Twenty-four of those workers were reportedly hospitalized. One is in critical condition. 

The repellent discharged after the can was pierced by an automated machine, NJ.com reports. Workers exposed to the repellent had trouble breathing and felt a burning sensation in their eyes and throat, the site reported. First responders reportedly treated the employees outside the warehouse.

The Robbinsville Township Fire Department tweeted early Wednesday that it was "on scene at Amazon Warehouse on New Canton Way investigating 'fumes' that have several employees complaining of illness. Fire Dept is attempting to isolate the source. EMTs are triaging multiple patients. 7 ambulances and a medic currently assigned."

The can of bear repellent contained capsaicin, which is found in chili peppers. The incident didn't require a complete evacuation of the warehouse, NJ.com reported, and it's under investigation. 

"Today at our Robbinsville fulfillment center, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility," said Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty. "All employees in that area were relocated to a safe place and employees experiencing symptoms were treated onsite. As a precaution, some employees were transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment. All of the impacted employees have been or are expected to be released from hospital within the next 24 hours. We'd like to thank all of the first responders who helped with today's incident."

First published Dec. 5, 2:05 p.m. PT.
Update, 5:01 p.m.: Adds comment from Amazon.